One of the world’s richest people just entered the 2020 Democratic race. Hi, Michael Bloomberg.
His first job after grad school was at investment bank Salomon Brothers in the 1960s – he eventually became a partner. In the 1980s, he founded Bloomberg LP – a financial data and news company where he was the CEO (he’s taking a break from that role while he’s in the race). He was NYC mayor from 2002 to 2013. He’s switched political parties multiple times: he was first elected mayor as a Republican, then registered as an independent, and later hopped on the Democratic train in 2018. Bloomberg also has a charitable organization, Bloomberg Philanthropies, that's focused on five issues: public health, the environment, education, government innovation, and arts and culture.
The Elephant in the Room
Bloomberg’s one of three billionaires in the race (hi, President Trump and Tom Steyer) at a time when the progressive wing of the party has been speaking out against wealth inequality and in favor of taxing the rich. Bloomberg’s campaign reportedly won’t accept any donations – and says that if he’s elected, Bloomberg won’t accept a paycheck. Bloomberg may also have a hard time getting minority voters behind him. As NYC mayor, he supported the NY Police Department's “stop-and-frisk” policy. African American and Hispanic men were disproportionately targeted under the policy, which allowed police to stop and search people they believed were suspicious. A federal judge eventually ruled that the policy was unconstitutional. And in November, Bloomberg publicly apologized for supporting it. One more thing: since he joined the race, Bloomberg’s past history of crude comments about women have resurfaced. His campaign says that he now realizes they were “disrespectful and wrong.
The 2020 Policies
On guns…a top issue for Bloomberg. He’s the primary funder of Everytown for Gun Safety, an advocacy group working to end gun violence. He supports universal background checks and an assault weapons ban. But he’s not a fan of mandatory buyback programs, which he thinks are impossible to enforce.
On climate change…before he got into the race, he announced a campaign called Beyond Carbon. He’s investing $500 million of his own money to help the US achieve a 100% clean energy economy. Some of Beyond Carbon’s goals: get all coal power plants closed by 2030 and helps get candidates who are “climate champions” elected to local offices.
On health care…he’s not into the idea of Medicare for All. He thinks that replacing the entire US health care system would “bankrupt us for a very long time.” But he’s open to an option that would provide health insurance to anyone who’s uncovered. Also, as mayor, he implemented a number of public health measures, including making NYC the first city to require calorie counts on menus for chain restaurants.
On taxes…he wants wealthy people like him to pay more in taxes. But he’s against the wealth tax that fellow 2020 candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) proposed. He said it’s “probably unconstitutional” and compared the idea to socialism, saying it’s similar to policies in Venezuela.
On immigration…he says the country needs immigrants to fill all the jobs out there. He also founded a pro-immigration advocacy group that pushes lawmakers to enact legislation to protect Dreamers. As mayor, he started programs to help immigrant entrepreneurs start and grow businesses, and enforced a policy still in place today that keeps immigration statuses confidential when immigrants interact with the city government (think: in certain situations, city agencies can’t ask about immigration status).
Bloomberg initially ruled out a 2020 run but changed his mind because he didn’t think any of the other Dem candidates could defeat Trump. Now Bloomberg poses a challenge to the other moderates in the Democratic primary race, like former VP Joe Biden and South Bend, IN Mayor Pete Buttigieg. While they’re leading that pack, they’re not a sure thing. And Bloomberg has one big advantage: the ability to spend a ton of money on campaign ads.